Technology towards transcendence: apocalyptic spiritualities & the genesis of science fiction in Weimar Germany
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This thesis seeks to understand how, in the early twentieth century, esoteric schools in German-speaking Europe influenced the proto-science fiction genre, especially the cinema of Weimar Germany. It is inspired by the work of historians such as Suzanne Marchand and Corinna Treitel, but expands their focus to the period after the First World War and into new forms of mass media. It investigates how discoveries in archaeology and philology reshaped the modern European understanding of the technological prestige of ancient Eastern civilizations, as well as the longstanding presumptions about the originality behind Western religious texts and traditions. In the decade leading up to the Great War, the shock of these discoveries inspired a countercultural revival of the occult and Gnosticism, which in turn found an unexpectedly strong expression among writers of pulp fiction and sensationalist literature, especially those of the science fiction and fantasy genres. In particular, this thesis focuses on the screenwriters, directors, and other filmmakers behind Weimar science fiction films. Its conclusions are tentative, pending on further research.